Alaskan political observers at Mudflats noted some odd returns from Tuesday's election. Specifically, most polls had shown Barack Obama roughly three percent behind John McCain in Alaska in the days leading up to the election, but throughout election night, the numbers reported a fairly consistent 26 percent-ish lead for McCain. This difference remained static throughout the night, even as new numbers came in from areas that were decidedly "red" or "blue."
Furthermore, the Senate race between Ted Stevens (R) and Mark Begich (D) shows Stevens about 3,000 votes ahead, but a recent poll showed Begich with as much as a 22 percent lead. Perhaps Begich's lead has something to do with Stevens's recent convictions on seven corruption charges. There are still some absentee ballots to be counted, but the numbers belie the polls.
A piece at the Washington Post notes that many pollsters were very unhappy with their results from Alaska and posits the theory that since McCain conceded at 7:15 p.m. Alaska time, many voters may have decided to simply not bother upon hearing of Obama's victory. In any event, the Post doesn't offer any solid explanations for the on-going "head-scratcher."
Indeed, 538.com wondered "What the Hell Happened in Alaska?" 538's Nate Silver offers three possible explanations: 1) Alaskan Democrats didn't bother to vote, as around 4 p.m. local time it would have been evident that an Obama victory was in the works; 2) Perhaps a large number of Democratic ballots have yet to be counted; and 3) It is possible that many of the ballots that have been challenged just so happened to be Democratic.
This should be fun to watch. A Senate seat hangs in the balance.
Oh, and what discussion of Alaska would be complete without a note about Caribou Barbie. The Huffington Post reported today that the Republican Party has sent a lawyer (?) to Alaska to gather up all of those clothes that were purchased for Caribou Barbie on the campaign trail. By "all of those clothes" I mean roughly $200,000 worth, if you include the stuff that Barbie's staff rang up on their personal credit cards.
That guy's gonna need to rent a truck.